"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reality Check: Why Accept What the Feds Are Offering?

Monty Neill finds himself in the unenviable, though totally expected, position of doing PR for the corporate unions, who find themselves in bed with Arne Duncan and Bill Gates on testing.  Here is what Monty posted to all the lists:
Reality check.

One person emailed me to ask the meaning of 'grade span.' It means a requirement to test annually once in each of grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12, in reading/ELA, math and science. This is what the 1994 law called for (tho without science) and it was quite livable if states did not attach sanctions - and most did not.

The context is the House bill for a new ESEA which removes AYP and federally mandated sanctions. Thus, amount of testing and sanctions is kicked back to the states. Not a prayer in hell the Rs will tell the states they have to do less testing or not take punitive actions, but they can and do stop mandating the punishment and reduce testing to potentially low stakes in 3 grades. Alexander's bill is similar in allowing grade span as well as other reasonable options. Fundamentally, if they remove sanctions and AYP and the requirement to judge teachers by student scores and allow grade-span, states and then districts will be able to restore rationality. many will only do so if pushed by parents, students, teachers and other community members - but we'd have a far greater chance to win if federally mandated testing were only 3 grades and with no mandated punishments, not 'adequate yearly progress.' It is that or continue with what we have, there is no 'no test' alternative remotely feasible at this juncture.
So tell me, Monty, why should the eminently feasible solution satisfy those who want fairness in testing?  Or is that name, FairTest, just something that was dreamed up to raise money to do PR for the NEA and AFT.  Maddening.

You know that the only only fair test is local, low stakes, and designed to improve learning.  Any other kind is unethical.  It is the unethical variety that "fairtest" has signed on to: high stakes, summative, punishing, and intended to pave the way for more privatization.  And this is what the feds are offering.  Why settle?  Why not stand on principle and for what we know will happen if people stand up the oligarchs?  They are on the defensive.  By not standing for what is right, you have become that which we once thought you were fighting.

You have become the problem.  You are it.

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